Baseball America’s Top Cubs Prospects for 2011

The CCO’s off-season look at the Cubs’ farm system continues today with the top 31 prospects in the Cubs organization according to Baseball America.

Baseball America’s 2011 Prospect Handbook was recently released with the Nationals’ Bryce Harper on the cover. BA was very complimentary of the Cubs’ system before the trade with the Rays last month … and Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt cracked their editor’s top 50 lists.

The Cubs system made it into the top 10 before the trade (ranked number 8), but slipped back to the bottom half of the league after the deal with Tampa that sent four of the top 20 prospects in the system to the Rays for Matt Garza. Baseball America is supposed to update their 2011 organizational rankings next month.

Here’s how Baseball America ranked the top 31 prospects in the Cubs system before January 8.

1. Chris Archer. RHP*
2. Brett Jackson, OF
3. Trey McNutt, RHP
4. Hak-Ju Lee, SS*
5. Josh Vitters, 3B
6. Chris Carpenter, RHP
7. Matt Szczur, OF
8. Hayden Simpson, RHP
9. Rafael Dolis, RHP
10 Brandon Guyer, OF*
11. Alberto Cabrera, RHP
12. Darwin Barney, SS/2B
13. D.J. LeMahieu, IF
14. Scott Maine, LHP
15. Jay Jackson, RHP
16. Robinson Chirinos, C*
17. Welington Castillo, C
18. Marcos Mateo, RHP
19. Robinson Lopez, RHP
20. Kyle Smit, RHP
21. Logan Watkins, 2B/OF/SS
22. Ryan Flaherty, 2B/3B
23. Reggie Golden, OF
24. Ben Wells, RHP
25. Aaron Kurcz, RHP
26. Brooks Raley, LHP
27. Junior Lake, SS/3B
28. Jae-Hoon Ha, OF
29. Esmailin Caridad, RHP
30. Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP
31. Matt Cerda, 2B/3B
*Traded to the Tampa Bay Rays along with Sam Fuld on January 8 for Matt Garza, Fernando Perez and Zachary Rosscup

26 of the Cubs top 31 prospects are (were) homegrown talent and five came to the Cubs via the trade route.

Baseball America thinks Darwin Barney could end up being the top rookie in the Cubs system in 2011. “The best middle-infield defender in the organization keeps overachieving and could steal playing time at second base.”

As for a breakout prospect in the Cubs’ system, BA feels Aaron Kurcz “won’t remain an anonymous 10th round pick for much longer.” The right-hander throws a 91-95 MPH fastball with promising secondary pitches. The 20-year old (August 8, 1990) was the Cubs 10th round pick last June and put together a 2-1 record in 26 games, all in relief, for the Mesa Cubs and Boise Hawks last year. Kurcz posted 9 saves, a 1.98 ERA and struck out 48 batters in 27 innings (11 walks, 15 hits and a 0.95 WHIP).

Matt Cerda could be the sleeper in the Cubs’ system. BA ranked Cerda the 31st best prospect in the organization. According to Baseball America, “He has unusual feel for hitting and strike-zone control for someone so young.” Cerda turns 21 on June 20.

Cubs Prospects in the Top 50
The editors of Baseball America publish their individual lists of the top 50 minor league prospects in the game. Chris Archer ranked in the 30s in all three lists.

Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt made Jim Callis’ top 50 prospects list. Callis ranked Jackson number 37 and McNutt number 45.

Will Lingo ranked Brett Jackson as the 41st best prospect in the game … and John Manuel did the same.

As for the players acquired from the Washington Nationals for Tom Gorzelanny (outfielder Michael Burgess, lefty Graham Hicks and right-hander A.J. Morris) two of the three made it on the Nationals’ top 30 prospects list.

Michael Burgess was ranked the 19th best prospect in the Nats system and right-hander A.J. Morris checked in at number 18.

The Cubs system took a hit with the trade for Matt Garza but there is still a lot of depth in the organization. The Cubs have several prospects that project as big league ballplayers … now they just have to prove it on the field.

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  • Skeldor

    I still don’t like the Garza trade. Gave up way to much for him, especially since the odds of contending the next 2 years weren’t that great. But that’s what happens when your GM is in desperation mode trying to keep his job.

    • Tony

      I still don’t like it either, but you said it right, desperation mode trying to keep his job. What scares me is what else he will do, to try and compete this year, if we are “close”. The problem with that is unless we have a horrible start, all teams stay close enough, to make desperation moves in May/June. But as Rip pointed out, we don’t even compare with the Brewers, let alone the Reds and Cardinals. And that’s just within our division.

      • The Maven

        Just like I stated in my community blog article, 2003 – Three outs from Glory or Doomed to Fail?, the Cubs put in place enough veteran talent that if they are hot to start the season, management and fans will feel “this is the year”. As in 2003, the Cubs could start benching or dumping their prospects in a “championship drive”. Despite what anyone thinks of the 2003 prospects, history shows us that the Cubs are still paying for that mistake.

        • paulcatanese

          I agree,that was a super article. The only thing I could add here is now the Cubs have the prospects once again. Management should use them now or get off the pot.Frankly I am tired of watching players that are predictable in their outcome on the field . A fresh new start is not the end of the world, use these prospects or lose them.

        • jayrig5

          Refresh my memory…who were the super prospects the Cubs dumped that season in order to contend? In fact, I looked up the trade history for the 2003 season. The Cubs traded these players: Nate Teut, Alan Benes, Derrin Ebert, Mark Bellhorn (for Jose Hernandez), Jose Hernandez, Matt Bruback, Bobby Hill, Jason Fansz, Ray Sadler, Enmanuel Ramires, Tom Evans, and Phil Norton. Yeah, that’s a regular All-Star team, huh?

          In return, the Cubs got Kenny Lofton (who played great down the stretch, and in the playoffs), Doug Glanville (a quality backup for that run, and he provided a very memorable clutch hit in the playoffs), Randall Simon (more good play down the stretch, platooning with Eric Karros) Tony Womack (veteran utility player.) They traded a bunch of guys who never did anything of note in the majors for major-league talent that helped them come within 5 outs of the World Series. Oh, and, also, they got Aramis Ramirez, the best Cubs third-baseman since Ron Santo, who not only played well in the 2003 season, but has played very well ever since, (excluding the previous two freak-injury seasons) and was also an extremely important cog in the 2007/2008 division title runs.

          All of those trades were fantastic moves. Hendry didn’t trade away anyone of any value, and in return, he got plenty of value. That’s how it should be done.

          As for Garza, he was the best pitcher left available on the trade market. The ceiling for Archer isn’t that much different than the ceiling for Garza. The Cubs have a lot of starting pitching that’s either better or comparable to Archer (McNutt) or not far behind (Jackson, Carpenter, etc.) Lee was only, what, months younger than Castro, and he was at single-A last year? The Cubs have no need for shortstop, really. Having another is a luxury. Guyer was a 26 year-old Double-A repeater. Chirinos is a 27 year-old minor-league catcher, who was probably the Cubs 3rd-best catcher under the age of 30.

          This was a deal worth making, especially because talented starting pitching is a rare commodity. And next season’s free-agent crop isn’t great. Personally, I wanted Greinke, since this package would have gotten him. And I also think this package may have gotten Adrian Gonzalez, or would have come close. I’d have preferred either of those players, but it didn’t happen. Garza is only what, 27? That’s roughly the same age as two of the “prospects” the Cubs gave for him.

          Hendry has many flaws as a GM, but trading away prospects (or veterans) and not getting equal or greater value isn’t one of them. In fact, his history is one of holding onto prospects long past their value (Pie, Patterson, Ronny Cedeno, Jeff Samardzija, etc) not freely dealing good young players for nothing. I looked at all 97 of the deals he made, up through December of last year (the deals he made last season, midseason, and this offseason are a bit too recent to judge anyway, since they weren’t for major-league players, Garza excluded) and the only deals I see, going back to 2002, where he traded away a player that was useful at the time or became useful later and didn’t get back something of equal or greater value? Angel Pagan in 2008, maybe DeRosa, although Archer was a key to getting Garza (but that was a dumb trade by virtue of the fact that it was done in order to sign Milton Freaking Bradley) and beyond that, it’s tough to tell. I mean, Nolasco as part of the Juan Pierre deal looks bad, and if you wanted to put that on there, I wouldn’t object, but Pierre wasn’t bad for his one year. The problem was it was just one year. Scott Eyre for Brian Schlitter, I guess, although that was as much a Lou Piniella trade as a Jim Hendry trade. (So was the DeRosa deal.)

          And, finally, Jose Ceda for Kevin Gregg. That deal was stupid. So that’s definitely 3, maybe 5. Out of 100 or so. That’s a decent trade record. A lot of those 100 are just wash-moves, with neither side gaining or losing much. But still, I kind of trust Hendry in this area. I don’t think getting Garza represents a “win-now, mortgage the future” mentality. He’s 27.

          And, most of all, none of those 2003 trades were bad deals. I’d have traded every one of those players the Cubs gave up for Aramis, and any current GM probably would have done the same. The fact that the Cubs also got so many other usable veterans for that playoff run is what makes it so impressive. Hendry put a team together capable of winning the World Series. All of those minor leaguers were worth taking that chance.

          • The Maven

            Dear jayrig, let me refresh your memory…..the Cubs lost in 2003. They didn’t go to the World Series, and they’re still without a championship. So, whatever trades they made, it didn’t work. The point is that they had a plan at the beginning of the season and didn’t stick to it. Have you enjoyed the past 7 seasons? Are you a supporter of all the quick fix moves that also didn’t work?

            The Cubs’ new owner has stated that he wants to build a franchise that will compete on a yearly basis. The moves made this winter haven;t been consistent with that notion. My comment was not necessarily on the Garza trade itself, but the other moves such as signing Reed Johnson, Augie Ojeda, Koyie Hill, and Braden Looper. These players look and awful lot like Bellhorn, Eric Karros, Damion Miller, and Shawn Estes. Like in 2003, if these veterans are hot at the beginning of the season, the idea of building a franchise to rival some of the better teams in baseball would be scrapped.

            It’s easy in retrospect to say that none of the players amounted to much. You can probably make that arguement for Bobby Hill and Luis Montanez. But excet for Geovany Soto, who is with the Cubs, and Adam Greenberg and Dave Kelton, who were injured, the rest went through the Dusty Baker-Lou Piniella-Jim Hendry prospect sausage grinder. After that trio shattered their confidence, its no wonder they didn’t perform well.

            And by the way, Jim Hendry, as a Director of Player Personel or GM, has been involved in the trades of Kyle Lohse, Dontrelle Willis, Jon Garland, Eric Hinske, Ricky Nolasco, Scott Downs, David Aardsma, Angel Pagan, and Casey McGehee

          • paulcatanese

            Absolutly correct on your analysis. Like it.

          • Richard Hood

            Casey McGehee was not traded he signed as a minor league free agent with the Brewers. In all fairness to JH on that one no one in baseball knew what he was because he could have been claimed in September of 2008 and wasn’t.

            But I do agree with your overall point. JH has let alot of talent move around with very little ,long term results.

          • paulcatanese

            I think the bottom line on Casey McGehee is that he did not remain with the Cubs and was gone, I dont’ think the Maven missed on that point,because JH let him go which is almost the same thing as trading him.

          • The Maven

            Dear Richard. Thank you for finishing my post. I’ve been having connection problems all day. My comment was posted before I had a chance to edit it. The points you made were exatly what I was going to add.

    • studio179

      Yep. The day the Brewers made the Greinke trade I shook my head. Not because Cub batters had to face him, but for what Hendry would do to respond.

  • Tom U

    Like I said in posts made at the time of the trade and my subsequent analysis, the Cubs must like Starlin Castro, Trey McNutt, and their outfield and catching prospects in order to make this deal. I still don’t believe they got equitable value in the trade. What they essentially got is the Rays third best starting pitcher, who was in danger of being replaced by a rookie, for three of the Cubs’ top ten prospects (four of their to twenty). The Cubs should have received a top pitching and infield prospect in the deal, not a marginal outfielder and a single A pitcher.

    The Gorzelanny deal looks a little better, but both deals did not address the organization’s needs. The Cubs acquired no left handed pitching that is expected to be in the majors in the next two years, no right handed power hitters, and no first basemen. Overall, Cubs’ management would receive a poor grade on both of these trades.

    • jeremy

      Zachary Rosscup- is a left handed pitcher. in two years in the minors he is 6-5 with a 2.66 ERA. starting 17 of 22 games in his career. He was chosen in the 22nd round of the 2009 draft.

      He looks like a possible middle reliever in 2ish years for the Cubs.

      • Tom U

        Jeremy, at the time of the deal, I called Rosscup an “intriguing” propect. He has a very good strikeout to walk ratio and WHIP. However, this was done in the low minors. He’ll have to prove it at a higher level of competition.

        As far as seeing him up with the big club in two years, that will depend on what management team is in place at the time. If it is the current GM, you might see Rosscup pushed through the system and into the majors in order to justify his acquisition. The current GM did this several years ago with a reliever named Andy Pratt. In doing this, he destroyed Pratt’s confidence. I hope that Rosscup will fare better.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      You could also look at it like this Archer has good potential, but he also has control issues. Hak-Ju Lee has potential to be a great defensive speedy SS, but most scouts feel his bat is a big question mark.
      Robinson Chirinos looks like he will be a solid MLB backup catcher, and his bat is finally starting to show some promise after 10 MINOR LEAGUE SEASONS! Brandon Guyer who is viewed as a 4th or 5th outfielder.
      Yes, we gave up a lot!!! But, I think we gave up more depth than difference makers. Archer, may turn out to be a stud but he has to show good command first and might end up being a bullpen arm. 5.2 walks per nine innings will not get the job done in the Majors, and He had a good season last year, but nobody knew who he was before last year.

      • Tom U

        Trade analysis is always difficult, especially shortly after the trade is completed. In order to understand my perspective, let’s turn this trade “on it’s ear”. To do so, I’ll ask you all to suspend reality for just a second.

        Suppose last season, Andrew Casher came up and was “lights out”, demonstrating that he could be a dominating closer for years to come. Knowing Cashner was in place, how would you have felt if the Cubs dealt Carlos Marmol, Sam Fuld, and a single A pitcher to some team for four of their top twenty prospects, including their number one and number four prospects. You’d probably say the Cubs made a great deal.

        Remember, the Rays already felt that Jeremy Hellickson was ready to replace Garza. By trading for Garza, the Cubs were already doing the Rays a favor. It should not have cost the Cubs both their number one and number four prospects, or should have netted them more in return. At least, that is my perspective.

        • Patrick_Schaefer

          I’m not arguing with you that the Cubs overpayed Tom, But I was merely stating that all the Players traded to the Rays have lots of question marks. Archer has a high upside, and I’m not arguing that either but if his control doesn’t come around, he will never be a fronline starter, and he has had only one good minor league season. His walk ratio last year was still 5.0 per 9 at AA not a good sign. Hak-Ju Lee may very well pan out as well, but his bat is a huge question mark by many scouts. Chirinos tore it up last year at AA at age 26, now if he did that at 23 that would be something but at 26, 3 years or more years above the appropriate age level for AA it nowhere near as impressive or projectible. Also this was his 10th minor league season. Do you agree with that asessment?

          • Tom U

            It is agreed that Archer, Lee and Guyer have some questions, but those are the risks that people take in trades. Like I said, the Cubs were doing the Rays a favor, taking a potentially high priced pitcher with his own question marks off their hands. The risk should be solely on the Rays. The Cubs minimized that risk by dealing so many top prospects, and receiving little more than Garza in return.

            As for Chirinos, I tend to look at his numbers particularly as a catcher, which he has only been for the past two seasons or so. Who knows how good of a prospect he would have been if he made the transition sooner. As it was, he not only performed well at AA, but when he was called up to AAA. He was also performing fairly well in winter ball before being shut down prior to the trade. You also have to keep in mind that he started playing professional ball when he was 17, and may not have been ready for it. If you look at his numbers since he turned 22, or about the age he would have graduated college, he has gotten progressively better. In any other organization but the Cubs’, he probably would have made the major league roster 2 years ago.

          • Patrick_Schaefer

            Well put and well thought out post above. What are your thoughts on Josh Vitters who like Chirinos started playing pro ball at 17 and has been somewhat of a dissapointment? I’m not giving up on him by any means but just interested in your thoughts.

          • Tom U

            Sorry I wasn’t able to get back to you sooner, and thank you for the kind words. Putting Vitters and his progress in perspective is a complicated matter, so excuse me if I become wordy.

            I prefer to view players solely on production, not on their draft status or their contract. The player has no control over where they are drafted. In baseball, there is no salary cap, so player’s contract should be nobody else’s business. While a team should be held accountable for good business practices, fans should never consider whether a player is “worth the money”, but whether they are helping the team.

            That said, I feel that many consider Vitters a “disappointment” because he was a high draft pick and he is entering his fourth professional season. It is interesting to compare Vitters to someone like Micah Gibbs. Like Vitters, Gibbs was a fairly high draft pick (3rd round in 2010). He is also 21 years old and had a less than productive season. However, because Gibbs has done a lot of his maturing while in college, fans are not familiar with him, and consequently, not as critical. Vitters has done his maturing “under the microscope”. While he chose this career path, in many respects he’s just completing his “college”. It will be interesting to see how he progresses now he has “graduated”.

            I also believe that Starlin Castro progress has placed unnecessary pressure on Vitters. Fans may believe that since Castro was able to be ready for the majors at age 19, why isn’t Vitters?

            That all said, I believe that Vitters is a gifted player who will work out hs offensive problems. I feel that the biggest problem Vitters has is finding a position. While scouts feel he has a “plus” arm, there have been questions about his footwork at third. With all the infielders the Cubs have in their system, I feel that Vitters should abandon third base and concentrate on either first base or the outfield. I believe that once he does this, his offense will come around quickly.

          • Tony

            Nice view of prospects, but I sure hope you weren’t talking about the major league team and fans shouldn’t care what the players get paid since they have no salary cap.

            “In baseball, there is no salary cap, so player’s contract should be nobody else’s business. While a team should be held accountable for good business practices, fans should never consider whether a player is “worth the money”, but whether they are helping the team. ”

            Fans should very much care, what these players are getting paid, we pay for their salary. Yes the owner is ultimately responsible for writing the check, and their is no salary cap, but every team has a budget, and most people can figure out the range that a team is going to be willing to go to, to field a team. So if a Soriano, is using $18M of that salary budget, and performing like less than half of that (production could be replaced for 400k as well), then yes, we as fans should be concerned, since that move (and many other moves) can keep us from being in the market for xyz player, that may fill a need that we can’t fill from within, like 1B. 1B is where our genious GM, just signed a guy for 1 year and is paying him over 3 years…3 years!!!

            Now, I want my manager, to not be concerned over the contracts, and play the best player and the hot hand. To stick to a development plan of a young player. To be willing to sit a guy with a big contract, because another player is outperforming him, that is the only person, who should have no concern about the size of the contract. We as fans, can be concerned about everything, since we are just armchair GM’s, managers, coaches, and owners, we can be concerned about any part…we ultimately pay the bill.

          • Tom U

            Tony, maybe I should have been more clear, but I didn’t want the post to run too long. I feel that the TEAM should be held accountable for assessing a player’s value and compensating properly according to that value. The PLAYER shouldn’t be held accountable for living up to the contract. Most of us would find it hard to pass up the money these players are being offered. From the way most fans talk, they would feel a sense of obligation to do their best comes with all that money. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. That’s why teams need to do their research of a player to find out whether to offer a contract or not.

            You bring up Alfonso Soriano as an example. It’s not Soriano’s fault that the Cubs offered him that contract. While it is true that some players will take “less than market value”, such as Kerry Wood, those incidents don’t happen very often. When you look at Soriano’s numbers, he’s a pretty productive player. Yes, he has his flaws, but if he was making the league minimum, most fans would would overlook those flaws and may even consider him an “overachiever”. As ridiculous as that sounds, I feel that the other extreme is just as out of line.

            The people who should be held accountable are the GM and the owner. You are right, they are spending “our” money. If a player isn’t living up to the value they assess, then they either have to increase the budget or find a way to get rid of the player, even if it means releasing him. Using your example of Soriano, it should be noted that at the time he signed his contract, salaries were increasing and the economy was good. It was felt that after 2 years, his contract would be the standard and after 4, he might even be a bargain. When the economy failed, his contract then became an albatross.

          • Tony

            No the player can’t be blamed for saying yes, some players can be blamed for going to the highest bidder (then deciding they don’t like their environment).

            If you take away Soriano’s contract, and make him a FA, I wouldn’t want the Cubs to even consider adding him to the roster, so as far as productive numbers, not enough when you look at the player as a whole.

            At the time Soriano signed his contract, it was consider a great signing by the Cubs, a splash, but most observers, said wow, that contract is gonna sting in a few years. I am not sure who was saying, it was a good financial signing, and really can’t imagine anyone would have thought it would turn into a bargain. HIs contract was going to be bad, prior to the economy turning, it was thought then and is now playing out.

          • Tom U

            I hope this doesn’t sound like semantics, but a player can’t go to the highest bidder if the offers aren’t there. Ultimately, it is the teams that are responsible for player’s contracts.The only way in which a team isn’t entirely responsible is if there is collusion between teams in order to hold salaries at a certain level. The union can set minimums and step in if the player is asked to renegotiate a contract to lower money, but they have no involvement in the initial offering.

          • Tony

            Players have signed with the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Cubs, Mets, etc. Teams that have been the “highest bidder” only to realize, they don’t like the city, management, the fans, the environment, they now have to live in. When they could have done, what Cliff Lee has done and signed where it feels like home. Of course their has to be an offer for the player to sign, but if you don’t think that the players and their agents, don’t hold the teams up, with the thought of losing out on, or losing a player, you might want to pick up a St. Louis paper….

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Baseball America thinks Darwin Barney could end up being the top rookie in the Cubs system in 2011. “The best middle-infield defender in the organization keeps overachieving and could steal playing time at second base.”
    Why not give an “Over Acheiver” a chance to compete in Spring Training for the starting job at 2b? You all ready know that he is a superior defender. He doesn’t have much power, but he did bulk up this winter. I don’t think he is going to be a power hitter now but I think his power numbers will go up.
    I’m not saying you just give him the job either. I know a lot of people don’t like DeWitt but Barney is only 3 months younger than DeWitt. They both have upside. DeWitt has shown some power, he hit 9 HR in 2008, and after coming to the Cubs and Jaramillo started working with him he hit 4 while with the Cubs 5 total last year. I don’t think he is going to be a big time slugger but I think 10 to 12 HR is very possible. DeWitt has hit LHP pretty good over his brief career as well .268/.354/.405/.759. I know Baker hits LHP really well, but that is all he can do, he is okay at 2b and bad at 3b and can’t hit RHP so why pay him over a million dollars, and waste a roster spot. If the Cubs like Blake DeWitt and want him to be a starting 2b, then why stunt his development and make him a platoon player?
    We currently have 3 players that can play 2nd and 3rd base in DeWitt, Barney, and Baker. Barney can also play SS. Baker isn’t a plus defender, we already have a righty and lefty option in Barney, and DeWitt, both are better defenders and have more upside than Baker, so why waste the playing time on Baker.

    • paulcatanese

      Patrick I agree with you,have liked Barney’s good moves from the first time I saw him play. He would do well at 2b,but as you say DeWitt can hit leftys and will improve given his age. Barney plays a mean SS as well, could be the answer thieir if Castro falters.Also 3b. I think he is the sleeper here and only compliment those positions.

  • Calicub

    Neil I’m not sure if you know but for the last week the mobile formatting has been a little weird in your posts:

    You will be mid sentence and then it will have a link saying something like “13 comments 3 reactions”

    you do great work daily

    • Neil

      Thanks for letting me know, I was unaware. I know what it is, I just have to figure out how to fix it. The mobile version is converting hyper-links to other articles on the CCO to read the way it is.

      • Calicub

        You deserve to be salaried neil you do too much work

  • GrantJones7

    Cerda and Kurcz i also like very much, Cerda is deffianlty a sleeper

    I dont agree with them having Golden, Ha and Lake so far down though, Ha is deffinatly a legit prospect, anyone who saw him last year knows that.

    I dont like Vitters at 3 at all (since Archer and Hak are gone) He is the most overrated player in the system, he hasnt done anything great yet, this is a make or break year for him

    Also very very much like Szczur very much

  • paulcatanese

    I can only think that Cub management believes that Barney was the decision maker with putting Lee in that package. Barney was up with the club,performed average or a little above,certainly with the glove and was here already,while Lee had a little way to go to get there. Barney can play three positions,has faced big league pitching and is a perfect bench player. That in my mind makes trading Lee was justified but not in the returnwhat they recieved. I agree they should have had a much stronger return and certainly a number 1 pitcher.

    • Tom U

      Paul, I feel that Marwin Gonzalez was more of a decision maker in trading Hak-Ju Lee than Darwin Barney. However, there will be more on that in the next Down on the Farm report.

  • Bryan

    A lot of good posts today to read. But guys, when you’re talking our farm system, what’s the difference? We have an incompetent GM who is hanging on by a thread, and has never been adept at bringing up or dealing for young talent (at the right time). Then you have a puppet, yes-man new manager with no track record of success, besides the limited joke-of-an-audition last fall. And then you have the Cubs fan-turned owner, who’s just been brilliant so far both in front of and behind the scenes.

    Let’s remember, this is a ball club with a $130m+ payroll, and they still fumble around every year, throwing darts with blindfolds on trying to eventually hit a bulls-eye. You just don’t see quality organizations (again with this level of payroll) screw up so much. Something just have to give in management.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Well said, and that is why if the Cubs are going to overpay for any free agent I would love for it to be a Guy like Andrew Friedman The GM of the Rays. I think he is the best in the business at getting the most production from the least payroll, imagine what he could do with even a 100 million dollar payroll !!!!!!!!!!

      • Bryan

        Patrick…I would agree regarding Friedman. You know, I look back over Hendry’s moves the last several years, and certainly disagree with most of the activity. The one that really irks me though was the hiring of Piniella. Say all you want about two division titles, but the guys was a dinosaur manager well past his time. The fault with that move was that Hendry missed-fired bigtime in not hiring Girardi. Think about the what-if’s if that managerial decision had been different. But now, we have the Quade era….please!

        • paulcatanese

          I agree with your post and let me add this . I had every confidence in Piniella when he came to the Cubs. After watching him multiple times it became obvious that he was not in tune with the times. One thing I do know that as one becomes older you must adjust to whats going on or you will be lost and fall to the wayside,as he did with his attitude. He was bored,not careingand actually wanted out and he left, but much too late. I learned this while coaching high school baseball at the age of 64. You must commuicate or you will lose all respect and understanding of your methods. I think,I know that is what happened with him and some of the players,no respect on either side,he did not respect the players and they did not respect him. And what do you end up with? A losing season,players who don’t give a >>>> and the result is what w all saw. And Quade? He was a fresh breath of air to these guys, and what happened,they won games. The true test of Quade will be the first 35-40 games of the season, we will see.

    • JedMosley

      You can say what you want about Hendry, because he’s had his fair share of mistakes, but you’re being unfair about Quade. His audition wasn’t a joke, he won 24 games with that crew after a horrible stretch before Piniella left, and every manager before they begin are unproven. Give the guy a chance before you start bad mouthing him and calling him a puppet, yes-man manager.

      • Tony

        Those comments probbably come from watching more aging vets play in September, while some young guys, who could of used major league experience, were sitting around all week, waiting for Sunday.

        September, when you are out of it, is a great time to play the guys you call up when rosters expand. Playing them once a week is not enough and we already knew what the vets could do. That is why the fall audition was a joke. It was the only way that JH could justify hiring him over Sandberg, was for him to be the interim manager. It was a no lose situation. If somehow they win games, Quade is easier to hire, if they kept losing, it was on Lou.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    The Cubs are and will always be my number one team above the bears, bulls etc…. but if I had to pick an AL team to root for it is the Tampa Bay Rays. I absolutely hate the Yankees, and I like to root for the underdog, and the Rays manage to give the Yankees and Red Sox a run for their money every year, despite having a payroll not even in the same realm, you gotta respect that.

  • The Maven

    Sorry, I hit something wrong before I finished. The last comment is:

    How much better woudl the Cubs have been with some of those players over the last 7 seasons?